The Night the Russians Attacked

I was conked out, an overdose of Nyquil.

Yes, this is already old hat to you.  You already know, I was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia, blah blah.  But maybe what you didn’t know, is that when I finally got there, all trussed up with enthusiasm and ready for the job, they managed to find the most mosquito-ridden place in the country to place me.  (I thought not.)  In a land known for majestic mountains and lush greenery, they found a malaria zone for me.

I jest not.

I took this in stride.  I find that the only way to take things; it helps avert nasty stumbles.

And from this day forth I became an avid user of all the bug repellents and itch ointments in our trusty Peace Corps medical kits, which resembled the kind of sturdy med kit Chekhov must have lugged through the backwoods in days of yore.

Well, the day came when my ship came in.  All of them, actually.  Namely, a group of volunteers left the country, and returned their unused medical supplies to the Peace Corps office.  To say I leapt on these supplies with the crazed frenzy of an addict would be…well, to ever-so-slightly belabor the point.  But you get it.

I scrambled madly among the left-over med kits, wholesale grabbing everything that looked like it ought salvage my poor bitten body from my mortal enemies.  What I neglected to check for was—expiration dates.

Yeah.  It turns out they’re relevant.

I was stunned, gobsmacked and completely confounded the next day, when my skin broke out in the hugest rash I’d ever seen.

“Gah!” I said profoundly.  And applied more anti-itch ointment.  Yeah…

I’d never seen the doctor’s eyebrows go up like that before.  Well, fine, I had.  This is Peace Corps, after all.  We had all sorts of everything plaguing us.  And the docs are great.  Anyway, they easily discovered the source of my rash:  my stupidity.

As we all know, the cure for Ruth’s Stupidity is a massive dose of Nyquil.  Which brings us back to the beginning of our tale. Namely, my stupor.

I wake up after a night of much thunder and lightning.  I stretch.  I see I have a text from J in New York.  I chuckle.  She’s going on about some scuffles at the border with South Ossetia.  She thinks it’s getting worse–could it mean…war?  I smile.  Dear girl, she’s yet to learn that there’s always scuffles at borders.  Honestly…

I leave the village I’m temporarily at to attend a Peace Corps meeting in Khashuri, a nearby town.  And apparently 30 minutes afterwards, the village was bombed.  I was the only one without any questions about the night before; everyone else had seen the lights and heard the artillery.  I was the only one who’d attached a weather forecast to my lists of reasons for the noise.

“Thunderstorms without rain?” they asked me, unimpressed.

Hm.  And of course within an hour all hell broke loose.  But that’s another tale.  And maybe not for the blog…

Wintery Bank in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

Wintery Bank in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
This entry was posted in Caucasus, escape, Georgia, health, Peace Corps, Republic of Georgia, Russian invasion, Tbilisi, the unplanned and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Night the Russians Attacked

  1. ralfast says:

    At least you didn’t panic, although I would have though the same. Mind you I seen plenty of violence up close and personal, but nothing like a war. And I hope I never will.

    • sputnitsa says:

      Yeah… Well, it was only after the bombs started raining down on Gori, a central city about 30 minutes north of us (and between us and the capital) that we realized that it was more than a “border scuffle.” It was war.

      I hope you see considerably less violence in the future!!! 🙂

  2. JLC says:

    Wow. Nope, never experienced anything like that before. Although…. there was this one time during a Christmas sale at Macys where violence broke out, but they were able to disperse everyone before bombs were thrown. 😉

    Glad you made it through safely!

    • sputnitsa says:

      Hahaha!! Oh, Xmas at Macy’s–that’s the real shebang, all right. 🙂 That place is SCARY during the shopping frenzy!!!

      Btw, I forget which store it is in Manhattan–maybe Lord & Taylor? Well, usually there’s a sign up front in the street, admonishing folks: “No Parking.” Come Christmas, when the windows are all gloriously decked, they add a second one: “Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here.”

      Brilliant, hey? 🙂 LOVE IT. 🙂

  3. We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table, 1872

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